facial recognition

How Facial Recognition and Emotion-Detection Can Change Marketing for the Better

When most people think about facial recognition technology they think of a “1984” or “Minority Report” world with an all-knowing, ever-watchful “Big Brother” presence. If sci-fi has taught us anything, hopefully we will never take facial recognition to that point. Nonetheless, the technology is powerful. In the right hands, it can do great things.

What is Facial Recognition and Emotion-Detection?

Facial recognition is a biometric technology used to identify an individual. A live capture digital image is compared to an existing photo called a faceprint. The faceprint acts much like a fingerprint, and is created by measuring 80 nodal points on one’s face. Some technologies can only detect faces, not recognize them. They can detect defining features like age, gender, and ethnicity.

Emotion-detection, on the other hand, analyzes people’s facial expressions and movements to determine someone’s emotion. Certain facial expressions denote the principle emotions such as anger, joy, disgust, fear and sadness.


From Intrusion to Commodity

You might be thinking facial recognition sounds scary and intrusive. How could it possibly be a good thing? But what’s so scary about a Snapchat filter or Facebook knowing who to tag in photos? The technology is being used all around us, and it even keeps us safe.

Customs and Border patrol use facial recognition technology to scan faces and match them to their passports, making the customs process smoother and weeding out fake passports. The technology improves and speeds up criminal searches by scanning security camera footage. It can even spot underage drinkers and prevent selling them alcohol in stores and bars.

The Marketing Possibilities

Many people worry that facial recognition will lead to a hyper level of niche targeting, down to the individual. And while that’s useful, it’s intrusive and may not spark the kind of meaningful disruption that great marketing requires.

Instead of personalization, facial- and emotion-detection technologies should be used to create engaging, memorable, and entertaining experiences:

For example, South African coffee brand Douwe Egberts set up a coffee machine in an airport that used facial recognition to detect travellers yawning as they passed by and dispensed them a free cup of joe. What a great way to treat tired travellers after a long flight.

Terre Des Femmes, a nonprofit in Hamburg, used facial detection to bring to light the issue of domestic violence. In Germany, one in four women suffer from domestic violence. Using the technology, a photobooth could recognize women and apply bruises to their faces in one of the four photos taken. The campaign showed the public just how serious and frequent the issue is.

No more shuffling through thousands of cruise or themepark photos to find yours. Carnival Cruise Line now digitally tags you in photos using your passenger account info and picture. The photos are sent to passengers’ accounts which are viewed on the in-room TV or app.  


Measuring the Results

It’s one thing to know how many people watched a video or tried a product; now we can know exactly where someone’s eyes went, or how they felt when they saw it. By tracking eye movement and analyzing facial expression, marketers measure what’s most effective and emotionally engaging.

If you’re not evoking an emotional response, you won’t have an impact. Much of decision making is spontaneous and based on feelings. Researching real-time facial expressions provides marketers with a deeper understanding of the thoughts and feelings that are behind purchasing decisions. This level of real-time measurement provides invaluable insights that lead to better customer goods, services, and overall experiences.


The Bottom Line

People are concerned about their privacy and want more control over their data. But for facial recognition technologies to function, they need access to faces. The experience, story, or reward must be worth the loss of privacy. So ask yourself, “Does this campaign enhance people’s lives in some way or is it just creepy?” If the answer is creepy, go back to the drawing board.

Facial recognition and emotion-detection is in its youth, but is growing rapidly. It is estimated to grow from $6.72B in 2016 to $36.07B by 2021. It is up to responsible marketers to use the technology to create positive change and do good.

Make your customer’s life simpler, not scarier, with facial detection. Show them they can’t live without it. Like all technology, its purpose is to improve our lives, not invade it.

If you are looking for an agency that cares, look no further than Acart. We believe in change marketing and doing work that really matters.

Contact Acart today

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